Cancer Center leader appointed to establish inaugural office

Feb. 16, 2023

Dr. Jennifer Hatcher will lead Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility for UACC


Dr. Jennifer Hatcher has been appointed as Associate Director of Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) for the University of Arizona Cancer Center. This move will initiate the establishment of a new office of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Cancer Center. Dr. Hatcher currently oversees Community Outreach and Engagement for the Cancer Center, and she will serve as interim in that capacity while a national search is conducted to identify a visionary and highly qualified candidate to fill that role. Establishment of an office for diversity, equity and inclusion falls in line with the direction of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its Equity and Inclusion Program, which strives to increase the diversity of the cancer research workforce, build a more inclusive and equitable NCI community, address cancer disparities, and advance health equity.

“We’re incredibly grateful for and proud of the tremendous efforts and exceptional work Dr. Hatcher has done to position us for success in meeting the needs of our diverse communities,” Cancer Center Director, Dr. Joann Sweasy said. “I have strong confidence that she’s the best choice to lead the inaugural office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the UACC.”

Joining the University of Arizona Cancer Center in 2018, Dr. Hatcher established the office of Community Outreach and Engagement, as well as the Community Advisory Board, comprised of 20 diverse members from across our region. Dr. Sweasy said that Dr. Hatcher’s work with indigenous communities in the Cancer Center’s catchment area has moved the needle forward as she has successfully partnered with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe to hire their first tribal community cancer navigator and co-led a tribal clinical navigation program to increase colorectal cancer screening across tribal communities in Arizona. 

In addition Dr. Sweasy noted that Dr. Hatcher has: 

•    Established the Research Outreach for Southern Arizona program to enrich the relationship between basic science and our local communities
•    Characterized the catchment area and, together with Cynthia Thomson, Interim AD of Population Sciences, initiated the first Population Health Assessment for the Cancer Center
•    Partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to help develop the five-year state cancer plan (2019-2023)
•    Established the signature grants program for Community Outreach and Engagement—the Community Academic Partnership Program
•    Along with Dr. Joann Sweasy and the Tohono O’odham Nation , hosted Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady, to showcase the cancer prevention and educational programs in partnership with several tribal nations.
•    Hosted the Cancer Prevention in Indigenous Communities Conference, bringing together more than 80 tribal partners from across the country (Nov. 2022)

“It’s an honor to have been selected to be the inaugural Associate Director of Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility for the University of Arizona Cancer Center,” Dr. Hatcher said. “UACC has expressed an unwavering commitment to promoting a workforce that includes unique and diverse opinions and providing a safe environment that allows the expression of those perspectives.”

Dr. Hatcher notes her excitement at the opportunity to collaborate with Cancer Center members and others to operationalize its commitment. “I envision these collaborative efforts resulting in the recruitment, development, and mentoring of diverse, talented, and innovative teams that are empowered and engaged in the central mission we have to eliminate cancer for all,” Dr. Hatcher said.

Dr. Hatcher earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Nursing from West Virginia University and a master’s in Public Health and PhD in Nursing from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Hatcher worked as a staff nurse in a variety of critical care settings prior to obtaining her PhD. After obtaining her PhD with a concentration on health disparities she worked as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. While there she served as the inaugural Director of Diversity for the College in addition to starting the DREAM (Disparities Researchers Equalizing Access for Minorities) Center, dedicated to the elimination of disparities via research, training, and community engagement. She developed the DREAM Scholars program, dedicated to mentoring emerging scholars interested in health equity science. Dr. Hatcher has a sustained program of research focused on improving the health of underserved minorities, with a focus on cancer disparities. In 2018 Dr. Hatcher joined the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health as a full professor.